Advice, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Devil, Encouragement, Enemies, Following, Opponents, Protection, Satan, Scripture, Soldiers

TIME FOR WAR

JOEL 3:9

Proclaim this among the nations:

Prepare for holy war; stir up the warriors!

Have all the soldiers come forward, have them come up!

The United States just ended their longest war in history. We finally withdrew from Afghanistan after twenty years. Many say we should have never gone to war. That can be debated. The fact is we went and were there for twenty long years. In a way, this was also a holy war. We were fighting to protect our nation and our way of living from a group of people who are determined to destroy us. Their religion calls for the termination of all “infidels.”

So, in a way, we can relate to this verse today. Joel is calling for Judah to prepare for battle. A day is coming when they will be fighting a holy war against the nations. Judah, which is part of the nation of Israel today, has been preparing for war since that day. They are still preparing today. Every young person in Israel has to serve a period of time in the military. They are prepared.

APPLICATION

The question I have for us today is: Are we? Are we prepared to fight a holy war? Now, I don’t mean a physical war with physical weapons, even though that may be required one day. I mean, do we have the divine weapons in our arsenal to fight the battles we face every day against Satan? That is a holy war we fight every day, and if we aren’t armed properly, Satan will eat our lunch.

You need to read 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 today. It will remind you that you do indeed have the weapons you need to fight the battle. But with any weapon, you first have to pick it up and then you have to know how to wield it. That takes practice. That takes time. I am glad you are reading this devotional blog today, but don’t let this be your quiet time. Let this inspire you to dig deeper in your quiet time.

I write this blog as part of my quiet time each day, but I also try to dig deeper in another passage. I need to know all I can to fight the battle. I spend time every day memorizing and reviewing passages. I want to keep my mind sharp when I need to recall a passage to protect my thoughts. It’s a battle, folks, each and every day. Don’t forget that.

O God, I am so glad You have given me divine weapons to demolish strongholds. I am thankful I can learn Your Word to fight off my enemy.

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FOCUSED

JOEL 2:8

“They do not crowd each other, every warrior of them marches in his path; when they burst through the defenses, they do not break ranks.”

Staying focused on a task is important. Most people today are so unfocused. They live by ten seconds snippets. Instagram and Tik Tok have altered the way we look at life. We are accustomed to those short pieces of life. We don’t have the discipline to focus on something longer than a few seconds. We are missing so much, even though we have so much more.

These locusts Joel is describing are focused. They have one purpose – to eat everything in sight. Nothing deters them from their task. They are determined to eat, eat, eat. They fly and crawl only to eat. We can learn something from them. God has given these locusts a task to perform, and they are determined to accomplish it.

APPLICATION

Do you have a laser focus on God? I mean, are you so focused on Him that others call you fanatical? Most of us don’t. But we should be. We need to be so dialed in on God that all that we do is related to Him. After all, if we are believers, all we do should be about Him. God’s will for our lives is for us to give Him glory. All we do and say should be focused on Him.

Most of us consider God as an afterthought. When things get bad, we turn to Him. When tragedy strikes we call on Him. We just celebrated the 20th anniversary of 9/11. I can vividly remember our nation turning to God after that. Churches were full. Services were held in our capitol. Prayer vigils were going on all over the country. Twenty years later people have forgotten who got them through it. It wasn’t the government. It was our Lord.

I have become so focused on God and His Word that others look at me as strange. When I talk about the importance of memorizing Scripture, I get these weird looks from people. God desires us all to be “crazy” about Him. Every aspect of our lives belongs to Him. When we finally realize that, it all begins to make sense. Let me urge you today to set your sights on God alone and trust Him to lead and guide you each day.

I am so thankful that I have learned to focus on You. Guard my sight, O Lord, from distractions.

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Advice, Advocate, Battles, Courage, Enemies, Following, God's Will, Modeling, Obedience, Protection, Safety, Scripture, Soldiers, Victors

NOT BY FORCE

HOSEA 1:7

“But I will take pity on the house of Judah and save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, sword, battle, horses, or horsemen.”

Sometimes we have to fight to defend ourselves. Our enemies are bent on destroying us. The United States has been at war with terrorism since 2001, twenty years. We have fought wars in Vietnam, Korea, all over Europe and on and on. Sometimes war is required to obtain peace.

But not in this situation. Hosea is prophesying about the coming defeat of Assyria at the hand of God. The Assyrian arm had come to defeat Judah while Hezekiah was king. Do you remember what happened? God defeated 185,000 troops in one night. Hezekiah didn’t lift one sword or bow. Not a single man in Judah fought. God did it.

APPLICATION

Now, let’s apply that. So many times we want to fight others when God simply wants us to sit back and let Him defend us. We are quick to snap back when reviled. We may even want to get physical when we have been harmed. We get testy in traffic. But God still fights our battles. One of my favorite verses now is Exodus 14:14. It reads, “The LORD will fight for you, while you keep silent.” Isn’t that great?

How do you do that? By biting your tongue? No, I think the Lord wants us to get silent in prayer. It’s really hard to be upset and mad at someone when you are praying for them. Those individuals may need Jesus, and if you retaliate you could drive them further away from Christ. They may be a believer who is not walking with Christ right now. Your job is preserve the peace.

So, what do you do when you are faced with a fight? You go to God. You talk to Him. You listen to what He says in His Word. You may very well have to defend yourself, but you do it in a way that still honors the Lord. He will give you the words to say and the actions to take. Remember it is His battle after all.

I will submit to Your guidance, O Lord, when I am faced by my enemies. I will trust Your battle plan.

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FREE

ACTS 12:7

And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter’s side and woke him up, saying, “Get up quickly.” And his chains fell off his hands.

You really need to read Acts 12:1-19 to get the full story of Peter’s imprisonment and release. It’s a fascinating story of God’s miraculous power. This verse, in the midst of that story, is great. Peter is sleeping between two soldiers when an angel appears, wakes him up and his chains fall off.

Can you imagine Peter’s surprise? But notice too that Peter was sleeping. He was at rest in prison. He was not up all night wringing his hands. He was trusting his Savior with his outcome. Whether he was released, kept in jail or killed, he was at peace. We could take a lesson from Peter here. Even when in chains, trust.

APPLICATION

This story would be a fun one to act out. Get your family together and assign the parts (Peter, angel, guards, Rhoda). Kids learn a lot from role playing. Act it out two or three times, changing roles each time. You have to video this too. Make sure to get the reaction of “Peter” each time he is awakened by the angel.

Ask your kids what they would do if an angel woke them up in the middle of the night. Ask them if they would follow the angel’s instructions or hide under the sheets. Our children need to understand that God still performs miracles. He may never send an angel to them, but He is still working in their lives every day. They just have to keep their eyes open.

What would you do with an angelic message? More importantly, what will you do with the message of God’s Word? He is speaking to you, if you will listen. The Scriptures are God’s way of talking to you today. But you have to read it to receive the message. Take time each day to read it.

Thank You, Lord, that I am free wherever I am because of Jesus in my life. The chains of sin have fallen off of me.

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ENLISTED

2 TIMOTHY 2:4 

No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. 

In the United States we have a 100% volunteer military. Gone are the days of forced enlistment. You probably know someone who was drafted into the military. But that doesn’t happen now. You have to enlist yourself.  

The phrase “enlisted him as a soldier” is one Greek word that is only used here in 2 Timothy. It literally means to choose an army. God chooses us, but just like the “no draft” policy of the United States military, He doesn’t force us. We have to sign ourselves up. That’s why Paul is warning us to not get entangled with useless stuff. We have a higher calling – to serve our Lord. 

APPLICATION 

Kids love to choose sides in a game. There are captains chosen, and then they proceed to pick sides. Your child may be the captain, the first pick or the last. That may seem trivial to you, but it’s not to them. Getting picked last can be devastating for a child. Has your child ever come home in tears because of that?  

Here’s a chance to impart God’s Word to them. Read today’s verse to them. Show them God doesn’t have “last picks.” Everyone He chooses is His first pick. We are all in His army. Worrying about getting picked last is one of those everyday entanglements Paul is warning against. It has no eternal value. In fact, it’s just the opposite. It is a meaningless distraction. 

How do you handle not getting picked first? Is peer recognition more important to you than acknowledging God’s enlistment? Rest in the fact that the Lord has chosen you. He loves you and wants to use you to advance His kingdom. Will you be careful to stay untangled? Stay free of temporal distractions and be prepared to “soldier up.” 

Lord, I am amazed that You chose me! I only deserve condemnation, but through the blood of Jesus I am set free to serve You. 

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SOLDIER FOR CHRIST

2 TIMOTHY 2:3 

Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 

The Greek word for “soldier” is used twenty times in the New Testament, each time referring to a Roman soldier except in today’s verse. This is the only time the word is used to describe a soldier for Christ. I think that is pretty important. Unlike other soldiers who are taught to kill and destroy the enemy, the soldier of Christ is told to “suffer hardship.” Hmmm. 

Soldiering is hard. Being a Christian soldier is no different. We are called to follow orders. Whose orders? Of our Commander and Chief, Jesus Christ. A soldier responds without questioning the orders. If He says do it, we do it. It’s that simple. 

APPLICATION 

Let me ask you something, Mom and Dad. Do you expect your children to follow your directions? Or do you let them decide how to run their own lives? If you expect obedience and they don’t respond correctly, what happens? There are consequences, right? As there should be. 

Teaching our children to follow our directions and guidance is important not just because they are under our authority. We are teaching them this principle for life. Submission to authority is key to life. Those children who do not learn this at an early age will struggle with those God places over them in authority. Soldiering is hard, remember? 

Do you have your soldier boots on? Are you ready to march wherever the Lord leads? Or are you questioning His commands? We all want to enlist in the army of Christ, but most of us don’t want to follow His commands. We will read His Word and ignore the passages we don’t like. Just obey. He will never lead you where His grace cannot cover you. 

You are my Commander in Chief. I will follow wherever You lead. I am ready to suffer with You. 

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